By LAURIE CHERENFANT

Many polling places were empty on Tuesday as Democratic rivals Letitia James and Daniel Squadron squared off in the runoff for public advocate, an election that was expected to draw few voters.

The contest, however, for an office whose annual budget is only $2.3 million and has cost the taxpayers some $13 million, was bitterly fought.

A week ago, the rivals conducted one of the most heated TV debates of the campaign season with State Senator Squadron continually attacking the City Councilwoman for not disclosing her rental income or taxes.

James countered by calling Squadron a “close ally of Mayor Bloomberg, [carrying] the water of Mayor Bloomberg in Albany.”
“No one has ever questioned my integrity,” James added.

As James voted at P.S. 11 in Clinton Hill she condemned the “negativity” of the campaign. “We need to refrain from these attacks and really talk about issues people care about,” she said.

Squadron made similar remarks saying they need to end “personal attacks” adding “It was really unfortunate that my opponent decided to go negative months ago,” he said after voting in Cobble Hill.

In 2009, only about 233,000 people showed up to vote in the runoff for public advocate between Democrats Bill de Blasio and Mark Green, officials said.

This year, only about 100,000 registered Democratic voters were expected to show up for the runoff, said Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan.