SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Jean M. Duffy (D-Citrus Heights), who helped launch California's crackdown on drunk driving by sponsoring a 1981 state law requiring mandatory jail sentences or license suspensions, said Tuesday that she will not seek reelection in 1986.
One of Duffy's constituents was Candy Lightner, former president of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, whose daughter, Cari, 13, was killed in a traffic accident involving a drunk driver.
MADD subsequently became a nationwide organization and obtained similar laws cracking down on drunk drivers in 13 other states.
Duffy was a Republican named Jean Moorehead in 1978 when she was first elected to represent the suburban Sacramento 5th Assembly District. She later was divorced and married former Assemblyman Gordon Duffy (R-Hanford), who at the time was Gov. George Deukmejian's secretary of environmental affairs and chairman of the Air Resources Board.
The assemblywoman said she is quitting to devote more time and attention to her children and her husband, who resigned his state post last June to become a lobbyist.
A former nurse, Duffy bolted the GOP and changed her registration to Democrat in 1981 after angering her colleagues by making a radio commercial supporting the reelection of Assemblyman Louis J. Papan (D-Millbrae).
The first legislator in 22 years to switch party allegiance while in office, Duffy said she agreed to do the commercial because Papan was faced with campaigning while his son was dying in a hospital.
Duffy's children include two sons who play football, one at the University of California, Berkeley, and the other at Placer High School.
"I want to see my sons play football, free of any guilt that I ought to be in the district attending some other function," she said.
"The legislative job is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job. There's always the next event, the next parade, the next town hall, the next coffee, the next chamber of commerce appearance."
She said she may become a college political science instructor or a Capitol lobbyist.
Democrats control the Assembly by a 47-33 vote margin.
Duffy won a narrow reelection victory last year, defeating Republic Tim Leslie by a 49%-48% margin. She denied that the tight race had anything to do with her decision to retire, however. Leslie is expected to run again next year.
There also are at least three possible Democratic candidates: Placer County Supervisor Terry Cook, Deputy Atty. Gen. Stephen White and Stan Hazelroth, an administrative assistant to Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Sacramento).