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David Kieffer, head of Service Employees International Union California, sees an opportunity to defeat conservative Republicans in 2012 by taking advantage of the state's new "top-two" primary system.

He told The Bee's Capitol Bureau on Wednesday that SEIU would even discourage Democrats from running in places they can't win to avoid taking votes from moderate Republican candidates. And he wants Democratic voters who have selected the "D" candidate for years to start thinking more strategically in red districts.

"We always used to run Tweedledee and Tweedledum or whatever," Kieffer said. "Some nice human being who felt like they should be the Democratic standard-bearer in a place we were never going to win. And people would sort of let that happen. I think we have to discourage Democrats from spending money and getting out there and getting engaged and trying to create a viable option, because the only real options are going to be in the Republican Party."

Kieffer is gearing his game plan toward the state's new primary system, in which the top two candidates move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation. He hopes to corral support from Democrats and moderates to help centrist Republicans defeat conservatives.


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