As mayor of a small but well-known city, Robert K. Tanenbaum enjoys a small sort of fame, nothing like the glare of attention that follows Tom Bradley.
Still, the mayor of Beverly Hills does not hide his dream of higher office, and being linked to Bradley can't hurt.
Cementing that link and taking a preliminary step outside the small world of Beverly Hills politics, Tanenbaum has scheduled an afternoon birthday party Jan. 14 to honor the veteran mayor of Los Angeles. Admission: $100 to $1,000.
"I think he's by far the best man for the job," said Tanenbaum, an attorney and author who was elected to the Beverly Hills City Council in 1986. The five members of the Beverly Hills City Council rotate the mayoralty every year.
He said that it is important for Beverly Hills to keep a man of Bradley's stature in office in Los Angeles, a city that surrounds the gilt-edged enclave on three sides.
While Beverly Hills politicians generally do not attempt to play a major role in the affairs of the metropolis, Tanenbaum has taken advantage of his one-year term as mayor to try to raise his profile.
Although he is a registered Democrat, he staged a $150-a-ticket reception last summer for Republican congressional candidate Jim Salomon, raising about $12,000 for Salomon's unsuccessful bid to unseat Rep. Anthony Beilenson.
About 80 people attended that event, most of them Beverly Hills residents, although Tanenbaum says he expects Bradleyites from Los Angeles as well when he fetes the mayor on his 71st birthday, which actually falls Dec. 29.
"I'm very, very thrilled to have the opportunity to endorse him," Tanenbaum said. "We've come to know each other . . . and I have the utmost respect for him as a man and as a public official."
As for Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district abuts Beverly Hills and who is expected to challenge Bradley for the mayoralty next April, Tanenbaum had little to say.
"I've seen him, but I don't know him that well," he said.
At Yaroslavsky's office, the Beverly Hills mayor was held in similar regard. "Who's Tanenbaum?" one staffer asked.
Karin Caves, Yaroslavsky's campaign spokeswoman, said it was "kind of surprising for the mayor of Beverly Hills to get involved and endorse Bradley's policies of too much growth."
Lydia Shayne, Bradley's deputy press secretary, said only that "we're obviously delighted by the support."
She declined to speculate on the likelihood of Bradley's supporting Tanenbaum in a possible bid for larger office, something that the Beverly Hills official does not rule out.
"Would I like to be D.A.? Yes, I'd like to be D.A.," said Tanenbaum, a former deputy district attorney in New York.
"But now I'm mayor and having more fun than I imagined, and I'll be city councilman after that and in all probability run for reelection."