You could come up with a rating system of votes to identify the most liberal members of the Maryland General Assembly. Or you could just do it the easy way, and rely on the early endorsements on Wednesday by Progressive Maryland, the broad-based coalition of labor and other activist groups on the left.

“It takes a two-thirds vote of our board to get PM’s endorsement, so our endorsed candidates are truly champions of working families,” President Elbridge James said in a statement listing the 37 Democratic incumbents and nine challengers.

There are just 51 Republicans out of 188 members of the legislature – 37 in the House, 14 in the Senate – so the endorsement of 37 incumbents shows how strong an influence the Democrats on the left have. The list includes half of the six committee chairs in the House and two vice-chairs.

Montgomery and Prince George’s County have the lion’s share, and the choices are predictable. Sen. Brian Frosh, the Judicial Proceedings chairman is on the list, as are the two remaining delegates in his district. Sen. Jim Rosapepe and his delegates in a Prince George’s-Anne Arundel district are included, as is Sen. Paul Pinsky and the three delegates in his Prince George’s district. Sen. Jamie Raskin and the three delegates from Takoma Park and Silver Spring made the cut as well.

More endorsements from Progressive Maryland will come later – it endorsed half of the winning members of the legislature in 2006. But in the first round, there is only one each from Anne Arundel and Frederick counties, and two from Baltimore County.

From the other 17 counties, there are no progressive picks in the first round. This pretty much shows that the ideological split in the legislature is both partisan and geographic.

–Len Lazarick