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Citizens Union

Gotham Votes 2013

Heated Public Advocate Runoff Ends Tonight

New Yorkers might not know it, but today’s another election day.

Last month’s Democratic primary left the city with a tossup for who the next public advocate would be. Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James took a small lead just shy of the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff with state Senator Daniel Squadron at second place.

But Squadron hasn’t been playing like a runner-up in the last days ahead of the election. If anything, the lead up to the runoff has been nastier than what any of the candidates experienced in the primary.

They’ve accused each other of being complicit if not active in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s agenda over the last 12 years. They’ve hit each other on personal finances and whether or not New Yorkers can trust the other.

Both have also taken personal offense to last-minute robocalls.

Earlier this week, Squadron’s camp accused James of sending out calls that the three-term senator doesn’t support Obamacare. Last night, Squadron took an on-air shellacking from NY1 Road to City Hall host Errol Louis over whether or not his campaign was behind an anonymous robocall disparaging James over a New York Daily News story.

And yet their progressive visions for the city are awfully similar: both support strengthening the city’s public schools, increasing accountability within the public housing system and tackling the city’s rising affordability gap.

Either way the public advocate saga doesn’t end with tonight’s results. The office’s gadfly status with whoever takes Gracie Mansion is far from resolved, and as the Gotham Gazette explored yesterday, how well tonight’s winner does might be predicated by whether November brings a Mayor Joe Lhota or a Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Projections for turnout in today’s runoff are low: somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 dedicated Democrats are expected to cast their votes in a race that’s costing the city about $13 million. The winner faces minor party candidates in November's general election.

Polls will be open, for Democrats only, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., today.

For polling site information, check out Who's On The Ballot.

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