Almost all other states in the country conduct nominating Primary Elections. In these states, the primary is for the political parties, because the purpose of the primary is to select each political party’s nominee who will represent the party in the General Election.
For example, if five Republican candidates and five Democratic candidates file for the office of Governor, the purpose of a nominating primary is to select the one Republican candidate and one Democratic candidate who will advance to the General Election and represent their respective parties in the General Election, and are frequently required to be a registered member of the party in order to file as a candidate. In this type of election, the candidates are representing their political party when they appear on the ballot. If the state has party registration, the candidate usually must be a registered member of the party in order to file as a candidate of the party. Sometimes, depending on state laws, voters must affiliate with a party in order to vote in the Primary and are restricted to voting only for candidates of that party.
In a Top 2 Primary, the primary is for the voters and candidates because the purpose is simply to winnow the number of candidates down to two. The candidates are not representing any political party when they appear on the ballot; they are only representing themselves. Candidates have great freedom to describe the party that they prefer. For example, a candidate might prefer the Pro-Life Republican Party, or the Labor Democratic Party. The party preference information for each candidate is informational only; it has no relevance to the election itself. Also, the voters do not have to affiliate with a party.
The purpose of the Top 2 Primary is not to select each party’s nominees. Political parties are free to conduct their nominating procedures according to their own rules, at their own conventions, caucuses and meetings. This frees the parties to develop their own criteria for nominations, endorsements, and other public declarations of support.