In 1896, Governor of South CarolinaJohn Gary Evans entered the first ever election in the state of South Carolina for the U.S. Senate. He had the backing of Senator Ben Tillman and much of the farming interests in the state. However, the farmers' movement had largely run its course and the Tillmanite reform movement had angered a considerable number of voters in the state. Conservative Joseph H. Earle and Newberry native John T. Duncan announced their candidacy's in opposition to Governor Evans. In the primary on August 26 Evans emerged as the frontrunner, but did not garner over 50% of the vote and was forced to face Earle in a runoff election. Those who had voted for Duncan threw their support to Earle and it provided him with the margin he needed for victory over Evans.