Metro

Long shots force runoff in Boston mayoral primary

The candidates’ chances of unseating Mayor Martin J. Walsh (left) — whose main challenger is City Councilor Tito Jackson (center) — are very slim.
John Cetrino for The Boston Globe/File
The candidates’ chances of unseating Mayor Martin J. Walsh (left) — whose main challenger is City Councilor Tito Jackson (center) — are very slim.

You probably have never heard of them or know what they look like, but Joseph Wiley and Robert Cappucci are adding a little intrigue to the mayor’s race. Both men have collected enough signatures to get on the ballot — and are forcing a runoff in this fall’s contest.

The two men hail from East Boston. Wiley is a customer service representative for MassHealth, and Cappucci is a former police officer. Their chances of unseating Mayor Martin J. Walsh — whose main challenger is City Councilor Tito Jackson — are very slim.

Wiley, 68, said he decided to jump into the contest after surveying the “distressed and unhappy direction” in which he sees the city heading.

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He formed a campaign committee in May, used his savings to pay a professional signature collector $8,000 to get names of registered voters by the deadline, and plans to make rising rents, income inequality, and affordable housing central to his campaign.

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“I look across the city and see people struggling to pay their rent, their mortgage,’’ he said. “And I see the cheerleading [at City Hall] that everything is wonderful.”

Wiley also rejected suggestions that he was encouraged to run by the mayor’s camp as a foil in the campaign. “I never met the guy or anyone affiliated with his campaign,’’ he said, and turned his attention to Jackson. “I’m doing this because I think I will be a better candidate than any one of those guys.”

He said he’s long had intentions to run for mayor. He pulled papers in 2009 to challenge former Mayor Thomas M. Menino, but he gave up after a week of struggling to collect signatures of registered voters. He said it was simply impossible for one person to collect 3,000 names. That is why he knew this time to hire a professional to gather the names and meet a key election threshold to qualify for the ballot, he said.

Cappucci, a 72-year-old former Boston police officer and teacher, has run for political office at least six times unsuccessfully, he said. His failed bids include runs for state representative, Congress, and City Council. He said he attempted to get into the 2013 mayoral race but did not collect enough signatures to compete.

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“I feel motivated by my own beliefs that I can helpful to the people of Boston,’’ he said.

Among his issues: better cooperation with the federal deportation authorities and blocking anyone from coming from out of town to have abortions, he said.

The two long-shot candidates are among a list of 44 contenders — including 11 incumbents — who Boston Election Commission certified this week to compete in either the Sept. 26 primary or the Nov. 7 general election.

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.