PORTLAND — Maine legislators have turned their attention from lawmaking to campaigning with the close of the legislative session and a third of all seats becoming vacant for November’s election.

Even though it’s a short session ending in May rather June, lawmakers were eager to get out of Augusta and get their campaigns going in what’s likely to be a competitive political year.

Republicans who captured both the House and Senate for the first time in decades are committed to holding those majorities. Democrats, not used to being in the minority, are seeking to regain control in the last two years of Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s term.

In the House, at least 50 representatives aren’t running for re-election, the highest number since 2002. Twenty-six of them can’t run because of term limits.

In the Senate, 10 members can’t run this fall because of the state’s term limits law — the highest number since the law went into effect with the 1996 election. At least two others aren’t seeking re-election because they’re running for another seat or retiring.

State elections in Maine, like most places, tend to be won by incumbent candidates. Fewer incumbents running could result in more competitive races this fall, said Jim Melcher, political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“Having more vacant seats means you’ve got a lot more chance for turnover,” Melcher said. “Overall, it’s better in general for the party out of power because some of those incumbents that they just can’t beat are now out of the picture.”

Leaders for both parties say they’re confident they’ll gain ground in November’s elections. The Senate now has 19 Republicans, 15 Democrats and one independent. The House has 77 Republicans, 72 Democrats, one independent and one vacancy.

“We identified 24 seats (in the House) where a Democrat held a seat where we feel they’re vulnerable and can be beat,” said Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster, who predicts the GOP will gain seats in the House and remain the same or make a small gain in the Senate. “We’ve recruited electable candidates in all 24 districts.”

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said Democrats should benefit from this being a presidential election year.

“This is a year we have a guy at the top of the ticket — President Obama — and Maine will be a blue state for him,” Grant said. “If they’re open Democratic seats, that’s good because we’re more likely to fill them with a Democrat. And if it’s an open Republican seat, it gives us a better chance of flipping it.”

Lawmakers have left Augusta but the session hasn’t formally come to a close. Legislators left the window open to return in the event they have to deal with vetoes on bills the governor could send back.

So while legislators can campaign, they can’t raise money from lobbyists until the session is officially closed.

“People are anxious to get out of here and to start their campaigns,” said House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland. “It’s one reason we’re anxious to adjourn as soon as we can because there’s a lot of fundraising activities and campaigning that cannot begin until we adjourn for good.”