WHILE THE CONTEST for sheriff was by far the most lively of what are traditionally ho-hum races for row office, many voters said the bitter battle between incumbent Sheriff John Green and primary challenger Michael Untermeyer just wasn't on their radar.

"I'm sure I pulled the lever for sheriff - I just don't know who I voted for," said Michele Depoulter, 30, of North Philadelphia.

Despite robust campaign spending and sharp jabs at his opponent, Untermeyer's message didn't register with the majority of voters, who handed Green a decisive victory in yesterday's Democratic primary - even if some didn't remember doing so.

"I forget," said Prestige Myers, 28, of North Philadelphia, when asked who he picked for sheriff.

"Green. Yeah. John Green. That was it."

With 96 percent of the vote counted, Green won with 132,448 votes over 61,525 cast for Untermeyer. There was no Republican candidate.

For the past 19 years, Green has run the Sheriff's Office, managing an annual budget of about $12 million and more than 260 employees. The office is responsible for transporting prisoners, guarding courtrooms and handling foreclosure and tax sales.

During an energetic campaign, Untermeyer attacked Green's record as sheriff, citing a highly critical audit of Green's office by the city controller.

Green accused Untermeyer of smear tactics and defended his record. He blamed problems cited in the audits on computer glitches now remedied.

Untermeyer, a real estate developer and attorney, did not return a phone call last night.

Green credited his solid record and his deft campaign manager, Donald Birts, for his victory.

"I think people looked at my record and they could clearly discern rhetoric from reality," Green said.

As for the other row office races, most were, well, predictably predictable, with one exception.

In the race for three city commissioner seats, Democratic incumbent Edgar Howard was bumped by challenger Anthony Clark. With 96 percent of the vote counted, Clark captured 71,273 votes against Howard's 45,978.

Democratic incumbent Commissioner Margaret M. Tartaglione led the race with 115,149 votes, while the lone Republican incumbent commissioner, Joseph J. Duda (12,190 votes), edged out Republican challenger Patrick J. Carroll (11,619).

Vivian T. Miller, the Democratic incumbent clerk of courts, easily beat ward leader Elaine Tomlin with 109,247 votes over Tomlin's 47,817. Miller will face Republican challenger John Featherman - unopposed in yesterday's primary - in the general election in November.

Ronald R. Donatucci, a Democrat who has been register of wills for nearly three decades, ran unopposed and captured 141,351 votes. He will face Republican Dan Salvatore - also unopposed in yesterday's primary - in November. Salvatore received 13,934 votes in the primary. *