LOWER EAST SIDE — One of the members of indie rock band "TV on the Radio" will perform at the TriBeCa Grand hotel Thursday night as part of a fundraiser for first-time congressional candidate Dan O’Connor.
D.J. Jaleel Bunton, whose band's last two albums, Nine Types of Light (2011) and Dear Science (2008), shot to the top of the charts, will perform at the private, invitation-only event that kicks off at 9 p.m. and runs to midnight.
An expected 100 guests will have the chance to hear O'Connor — a long-shot candidate hoping to unseat incumbent Rep. Nydia Velazquez — speak and participate in a question and answer session at the swanky celebrity-filled hotel on Sixth Avenue near White Street. Among the other invited guests are hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper and Barclay's Center director Jay-Z, but their attendance had not been confirmed by Thursday afternoon, organizers said.
O'Connor has been tapping heavily into the nightlife community in his bid to to take over the 7th Congressional seat from Velazquez, which stretches from the Lower East Side, through parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
O’Connor, 33, who grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and lived in China for six years, is widely considered a long-shot in the race, which has been dominated by Velazquez and City Councilman Erik Dilan. But he'd hoped his staunch anti-war stance, support for small businesses and fluent understanding of Mandarin would appeal to voters in a district with a heavy Asian-American population in both Chinatown and Sunset Park.
With neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, Bushwick and Dumbo included in the newly re-drawn district, O’Connor has also put a strong focus on nightlife and small business as a centerpiece of his campaign.
"My background is certainly in economics — consulting on growing businesses and investing," said O’Connor, whose experience includes working with a renewable energy business in New York as well as in China. "I certainly can relate to them on these issues."
"What we are seeing in Manhattan with these small businesses, it is costing them a lot of time and a lot of money," said O'Connor, enumerating the many laws that can restrict local nightlife, from the challenge of obtaining a liquor license to other hurdles.
"They should at least be able to contest charges and accusations without having to spend $10,000 on lawyers they can't afford," he added.
O'Connor's finance chair, Christianne Cook, has helped raise his profile among the nightlife community thanks to her background as a media and event producer turned social activist.
District 7's other contenders include "Occupy candidate" George Martinez, who used his own rap video as part of his campaign.
O'Connor is also hoping to win over voters who are discouraged by America's war efforts. He believes the U.S. military budget should be cut in half.
"This district in New York City is the heart of arts, culture and environmental consciousness, and people have a very strong anti-war sentiment," he said.