Women House members from both parties have stuck together like glue for the past few years, uniting to form the bipartisan Conference of Women Legislators (COWL).

The group has become a powerful force at the Statehouse, successfully pushing several woman-friendly bills and budget items.

Since most of you probably had higher priorities last Thursday night than catching the debate between Barack Obama and Alan Keyes (such as watching the St. Louis Cardinals win the National League pennant), I figured I'd do my civic duty and tell you what I saw.

This is an election. It is not a meeting of a Sunday School class," Illinois State Bar Association President Ole Bly Pace told the Associated Press this week.

Pace was referring to the Fifth District Supreme Court race as he made what could be the political understatement of the year.

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn was threatened with political "divorce" not long ago by Governor Rod Blagojevich's office.

Quinn has been a critic of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority for years, but he was completely cut out of the governor's massive restructuring and reform plan.

This year's only Illinois Supreme Court race is just about the hottest political thing going.

The Fifth District race pits appellate justice Gordon Maag (D-Glen Carbon) against trial judge Lloyd Karmeier (R-Nashville).

Up until last week the Statehouse had been one of the safest places in Illinois. No one had ever been killed there in its entire history. And then some unbalanced kid stops taking his meds and all hell breaks loose.

It's endorsement season in Illinois politics, a time of high anxiety for candidates who are already involved up to their eyeballs in stressful campaigns.

Missing out on a key interest-group endorsement can sometimes devastate a campaign.

As if Alan Keyes wasn't embarrassing enough, with his hours-long diatribes that say almost nothing of interest to anyone in Illinois except a handful of zealots. No. He's gotta go off and verbally slime the vice president's daughter.

A top advisor to an Illinois Supreme Court candidate who wants to end the lawsuit "crisis" has filed suit against two men who champion the rights of people who file lawsuits.

Enough irony for you? There's more.

It's probably not a good sign that at least two prominent speakers at the state fair's Republican Day event last week felt it was necessary to insist that the Illinois Republican Party is not dead.

Other speakers worked hard to reinforce the not-dead theme by helpfully pointing out several possible signs of life.