Christine Stuart photo

(Updated) He may have received the Democratic party’s endorsement, but former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy believes he’s the “underdog” in the Democratic primary for governor. As such Malloy called on his opponent, Ned Lamont, to debate him in every Connecticut town that’s home to a local newspaper.

Lamont who has already spent money on television ads and has opted out of the public campaign finance system said he “is looking forward to talking about the issues with him during a live, hour-long televised debate on NBC Connecticut the week of June 20.”

Lamont’s campaign said Malloy called Lamont six hours after the press conference Wednesday.

“If I had called him and he said no I’d be calling a press conference criticizing him for saying no,” Malloy said explaining why he hadn’t picked up the phone and called his opponent prior to holding a press conference.

Malloy and Lamont have already appeared together at more than 20 forums across the state prior to the convention, but Lamont has been noticeably absent at some including a debate at Manchester Community College and the University of Connecticut Law School.

Christine Stuart file photo

“Ned and Dan have appeared together more than 20 times already this year and they’ll do so again before the primary,“ Justine Sessions, Lamont’s campaign spokeswoman, said. “But even after 20 joint appearances, we still haven’t heard Dan offer a single idea for how to create jobs. If he wants to try a ‘different kind of campaign‘, that’s where he should start.”

Malloy’s campaign responded to Sessions comment by asking “Is that a yes or a no?”

At a Capitol press conference Malloy explained that using the public campaign finance system allowed him to free up about six hours of his day unlike in 2006 when he would have been chained to the phone “dialing for dollars.”

“Because we don’t have to spend time in a bunker, let’s spend time in every city that has a daily newspaper,” Malloy said.

Malloy’s inspiration: The Lincoln-Douglas U.S. Senate debates back in 1858.

Malloy said the Lincoln-Douglas debates lasted a minimum of three hours and more than eight hours on one occasion. He said he understands people’s attention spans are much shorter today than they were back in 1858, but he envisions something like a kitchen table debate with no preconceived notions or time frames.

“Test one another’s intellect. Test one another’s concepts of governance. Test one another‘s experience and the applicability of that experience to a state in crisis,” Malloy, a former prosecutor, said. “This is after all the outcome of campaign finance reform…More time for more debate.”

Malloy has not received his $1.25 million or $2.5 million check from the state Elections Enforcement Commission for the primary. He said he expects to receive it by next Wednesday and depending on how much Lamont has spent will determine whether he receives the higher amount.

In the run up to the convention Malloy was limited to spending $250,000 under the public campaign finance system. Lamont was not beholden to those dollar amounts. According to his campaign, Lamont spent $384,435 during the first quarter. Lamont has not said how much money he’s willing to spend on the race, but in 2006 when he ran against U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, he spent $16 million.