Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich says in his new book that he and his wife, Patti, would have gladly moved to Springfield once he was elected governor, but they had more than themselves to think about.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich says in his new book that he and his wife, Patti, would have gladly moved to Springfield once he was elected governor, but they had more than themselves to think about.

“If this decision and the considerations involved concerned only Patti and me, it would have been easy,” Blagojevich writes in “The Governor: Finally the Truth Behind the Political Scandal that Continues to Rock the Nation” (Phoenix Books, $24.95).

“We would have happily moved to Springfield. Why not?” Blagojevich writes, noting the Executive Mansion is 50,000 square feet and has a staff of 25 people, and notables such as Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt stayed there.

“But we had to consider our children,” Blagojevich writes. “When I was elected, our daughter Amy was six, and Annie was due the following April.”

Blagojevich recounted his time in Washington as a congressman, and said at least three of his colleagues there had lost children to suicide. Patti Blagojevich the daughter of a Chicago alderman, also knew the negative impact of being raised in a political family, he wrote.

“We didn’t want our children growing up spoiled with a sense of privilege and entitlement,” Blagojevich writes. “Growing up in a big governor’s mansion, surrounded by staff, in a company town where the only business is government business, and you are the governor’s kids. That’s not a normal way for children to grow up. We wanted to keep their lives as normal as possible to keep them as humble as possible.”

The governor covers a lot of other ground in the book. Here’s a sampling:

Springfield talk

Blagojevich was aware, at least at one point, of what was being said about him on local talk radio.

As a new state representative in the early 1990s, he made headlines in Chicago because of a push to increase fees that gun owners pay for identification cards.

“Mail from gun owners across Illinois poured into my office. A radio talk-show host in Springfield, Illinois, railed against the bill and called me ‘Representative Blowhard ….. (synonym for female dog).”

Blagojevich said he “valiantly defended” the bill, which was designed to fund trauma centers, but calls that ironic because it had been brought to him by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s staff.

“In any event, my bill went down in flames. I’m glad it did. It was a stupid idea,” Blagojevich writes.

Blagojevich and Mell

Blagojevich ramps up the long-running tension between him and his powerful father-in-law, Chicago Ald. Dick Mell.

Mell at first served as his political godfather over the years, recruiting him to run for state representative and then helping Blagojevich win bids for Congress and governor. But Blagojevich goes into extensive detail midway through the book about how their relationship destructed.

Blagojevich says Mell wanted him to fill the payroll with political hires and that the governor hired dozens of people at Mell’s behest.

“As long as they were qualified, their backgrounds properly vetted, and the law allowed them to be hired, his people were getting jobs,” Blagojevich writes.

But that wasn’t good enough. Blagojevich says he never dreamed Mell would “make it a purpose in his life to hurt me or try to destroy me.”

Blagojevich says one time he called his wife from Los Angeles, where he was out raising money. Patti tells the ex-governor in that call that she believes her father “was so angry at me and hated me so much, she was afraid he was going to kill me,” Blagojevich writes.

“It sounded crazy, and I told her that. But she kept on. She insisted that she was serious.”

An office assistant in Mell’s office made clear Tuesday the alderman would have no comment.

“The alderman is not going to talk about the book, I can tell you that,” the assistant said.

Government operations

Despite the charges of “pay to play” against him, Blagojevich insists he was committed as governor to running an administration as free from political influence as possible.

Blagojevich writes that he chose longtime friend Lon Monk as his chief of staff because Monk could be trusted and had a complete lack of connections and friendships in Illinois.

Unlike Republican predecessor George Ryan, Blagojevich said he wanted nothing to do with issuing state contracts and that he wanted to “prevent the kinds of things my predecessor and the people around him did.”

Monk worked with a deputy governor and state agency directors on the day-to-day decision-making, Blagojevich wrote.

“I wanted to stay above it. I didn’t want to get dragged into the petty squabbles that surrounded things like jobs and promotions,” Blagojevich writes.

Blagojevich then talks about a “feeding frenzy” of Democratic political leaders asking that people be given jobs in his administration. However, he names only President Barack Obama, then a state senator, who Blagojevich says recommended friend Eric Whitaker to be public health director. Whitaker was hired.

“When I was elected governor, I promised to end business as usual. And I believe I did,” Blagojevich writes.

Durbin for governor

Blagojevich says that had U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, run for governor in 2002, he would have been difficult to overcome.

But Blagojevich said he knew Durbin “was unlikely to be willing to risk losing his Senate seat by running against Jim Ryan (the GOP nominee in 2002) for governor.”

Durbin’s “aversion to risk losing what he had and where he was going paved the way for me,” Blagojevich writes.

Party leaders would have quickly supported Durbin, Blagojevich writes.

“I would have been without oxygen, unable to breathe. I wouldn’t have been capable of building the coalition I built, or raise the money I raised,” he said.

Book profits

Even though “The Governor” is just hitting shelves, a state lawmaker is targeting the book’s profits.

Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat and fierce Blagojevich critic, pushed a measure through the legislature earlier this year that would put any profits Blagojevich gains from book deals and television appearances in jeopardy of being seized. House Bill 4078 was approved by Gov. Pat Quinn last month.

“Obviously, the law was inspired by Blagojevich. However, it goes much farther than him,” Franks said. “All corrupt Illinois politicians need to know they are going to be held accountable for their actions.”

But it’s not that simple. Blagojevich would first have to be convicted of the corruption charges against him and determined to have “injured the people of Illinois.” Then the attorney general’s office would have to ask a court to order that any such profits be forfeited.

Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, would not say if such a lawsuit is planned.

“We will be prepared to enforce the law in any situation where it is applicable,” Ziegler said.

Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at 788-1540. Ryan Keith can be reached at 788-1518.