When he thinks back to joining the first class of the Republican Leadership Program, Larry Liston fondly remembers meeting in "a little motel in Golden." Designed by two Republican businessmen, including Colorado Springs developer Steve Schuck, RLP was something of an experiment, a way to tease out whether conservatives could, in an organized fashion, identify and groom a new generation of GOP leaders.
About 50 people are listed as graduates of that first class. The biggest name is that of Gale Norton, who was elected state attorney general two years later, and would become U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President George W. Bush. But a handful of others would ascend into county and state posts, including Liston, who served multiple terms as representative of House District 16 in El Paso County.
By any estimation, it was a pretty strong first effort. And since then the program — now called Leadership Program of the Rockies — has only gotten better at churning out newsmakers. From former U.S. Rep Marilyn Musgrave (Class of 1993) to former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton ('94) to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa (2002) to three of the county's five current commissioners, LPR has influenced conservative local leaders at nearly every level of government.
But how? That's the subject of Chet Hardin's cover story, starting here. To do his reporting, Chet not only talked with LPR folks, but also attended the program's annual retreat — which these days, it must be mentioned, takes place at the Broadmoor.