FAIRNESS COMMISSION was one of the last of a long series of Democratic Party reform commissions, beginning with the McGovern-Fraser Commission, created to revise the rules for the Democratic Party's presidential nominations. The Fairness Commission was created after the defeat of Walter Mondale in 1984. Jesse Jackson and Gary Hart, the losing candidates in the Democratic Party nomination contest of 1984, called for further reforms. They were upset over the fact that the superdelegates, created by the Hunt Commission, favored Mondale. Jackson complained about the effects of the 20% threshold requirement for the awarding of delegates. In response to these complaints, the Democratic Party chair, Paul Kirk, created the Fairness Commission under the leadership of Donald L. Fowler, who served as chairman. Fowler was a moderate, white Southerner, who would later become DNC chair under President Bill Clinton.
The Fairness Commission, under Fowler, did not want to give the appearance that it was buckling to Jackson, because the Democratic Party had developed an image of being a captive to special interests. Nonetheless, the Fairness Commission did lower the threshold requirement from 20% to 15%. The Fairness Commission, however, held firm to the concept of superdelegates, and actually increased the number of superdelegates for future party conventions to 16% of the delegates. It also relaxed the rule restricting participation in Democratic primaries and caucuses to Democrats only, so that open primaries could be held in Wisconsin and Montana with national party approval.
After the 1988 election, the Democrats required all states to divide their elected delegates proportionally among candidates that received 15% of the vote. After 1988, the party also expanded the number of superdelegates to 18% of