Only seven months to go!

A few notes from last night's candidate forum at the University of New England, at which the six Democratic hopefuls running to fill Tom Allen's seat answered questions from UNE's students of social work:

-- If we ever start a 1st Congressional District race drinking game, you'll definitely have to take a sip every time newcomer Stephen Meister says: "I'm not a politician, I'm a pediatrician."

-- Two sips if Mark Lawrence says: "My father was a welder."

-- "Weaning the state and the country off its dependence on foreign oil" will be a major buzzphrase during this race. In fact, Michael Brennan introduced himself with an anecdote about Ronald Reagan, solar panels, and where the country could be if we'd started major investments in renewable energy 25 years ago.

-- Lawrence and Adam Cote both specifically mentioned a national service program that would help to alleviate student loan debts.

-- Who knew that Chellie Pingree was on the Wal-Mart Watch board of directors?

-- Ethan Strimling sounds an awful lot like John Edwards (of 'Two Americas' fame) when he highlights the growing gap in this country between the rich and the poor.

Keep an eye out for the Phoenix's more in-depth overview of the field so far -- coming in an upcoming issue.

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