Political maverick mounts HD 90 Primary challenge to Democrat Joe Casello

'He’s been in two terms, and 90% of the constituents don’t know who he is.'

A political maverick is challenging Rep. Joe Casello in his third bid to represent House District 90.

Hasan Zahangir of Boynton Beach has not been elected to public office, but he said he’s been active in the Palm Beach Democratic Party. Zahangir said he’ll face Casello in the Democratic Primary because he believes there is a void in representation.

“He’s been in two terms, and 90% of the constituents don’t know who he is,” said Zahangir, who is currently managing a 7-Eleven.

Casello, however, points to his six years serving on the Boynton Beach City Commission.

“I think my record speaks volumes,” the retired firefighter said.

From a fundraising perspective, Zahangir is undoubtedly facing an uphill battle. In September, Casello had his best fundraising month on record, raising $6,500 for his personal campaign account and $7,000 for his committee, JC PAC. That brought his campaign’s total cash on hand to $77,039.

Casello’s political committee collected $6,000 from the Firefighter FACT PAC in September. Contributors to Casello’s personal campaign account last month show mainstream support, including $1,000 donations from Ron Book, a prominent Florida lobbyist; the 1199 Service Employment International Union Political Action Committee; and the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association.

Casello has served on the House Commerce Committee. He’s also served on subcommittees for Business & Professions, Health Market Reform and Higher Education & Career Readiness. In 2019, he successfully introduced legislation providing confidentiality for peer support conversations between first responders.

Zahangir, meanwhile, touts his experience as a small-business owner. State records show he’s filed 20 registrations for various businesses and organizations. Companies he’s registered include Yogurt on Yamato and Brendy’s Yogurt & Ice Cream.

Zahangir filed to run on Sept. 15, and his campaign fundraising activities show he’s raised $50 from Farrah Zahangir, who lives at the same address. He also lent his campaign $400.

Casello said he was surprised at the challenge.

“It’s always a surprise when a so-called Democrat runs against an incumbent Democrat,” Casello said.

The Palm Beach County district includes the western part of Boynton Beach. The campaigns faced a Monday deadline to report campaign finance activity through September.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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