Bill Whalen

Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism

Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism and a Hoover Institution research fellow since 1999, writes and comments on campaigns, elections and governance with an emphasis on California and America’s political landscapes.

Whalen is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee and writes on politics and current events for His commentary can also be seen on the opinion pages of the Wall Street JournalReal Clear Politics, Los Angeles Times and the Fox News’ website.

Whalen has been a guest political analyst on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. He’s also a regular guest on the nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by John Batchelor, Larry Kudlow, Lars Larson and the Bay Area’s Michael Krasny.

Whalen has served as a media consultant for California political hopefuls and aspiring policy leaders. His past clients have included former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former congressman Tom Campbell and former Los Angeles mayor Richard J. Riordan.

Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Whalen served as chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California governor Pete Wilson. In that capacity, he was responsible for the governor's annual State of the State address, as well as other major policy addresses.

Before moving to California, Whalen was a political correspondent for Insight Magazine, the national newsweekly and sister publication of the Washington Times, where he was honored for his profiles and analysis of candidates, campaigns, Congress, and the White House. During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.

In addition to his time in Washington as a political journalist, Whalen served as a speechwriter for the Bush-Quayle reelection campaign and was a senior associate with the public relations firm Robinson-Lake/Sawyer-Miller, offering media and political advice for domestic and foreign clientele.

Whalen currently resides in Palo Alto, California.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

How Long Before The Bloom(berg) Is Off The Rose?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, November 10, 2019

I want to explore the national prospects of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, apparently the latest entry to the Democratic presidential race (though his filing for Alabama’s March primary might prove to be an elaborate trial balloon that never gained altitude), but first I must confess to a bias.


In California, It’s Impossible For Democrats To Book A Good Venue These Days

by Bill Whalenvia The Washington Post
Friday, November 8, 2019

It is fitting that, for a state plagued by a homelessness crisis, the 2020 Democratic presidential field has suddenly found itself without a roof in California.


Twenty-Five Years After Proposition 187, The Effects Are Still Felt—And Debated

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, November 7, 2019

The first week of November is a reminder that next year’s presidential vote is (mercifully) now less than a year away. And in California: the 25th anniversary of one of the Golden State’s more seminal elections.


Are We Headed For Another “Hollow” Presidential Win?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, November 7, 2019

Time passes and we forget: while Barack Obama was good for the Democratic Party in terms of having a friendly face in the White House, Democrats actually lost influence nationwide in terms of offices held.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

What Happened To Kamala Harris?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, November 3, 2019

To the saying “denial is a river in Egypt,” which Los Angeles resident is less aware of their walls closing in: actress Lori Loughlin, who almost pled guilty in the celebrity college admissions scandal but didn’t; or California Sen. Kamala Harris, whose presidential campaign seems close to death’s doorstep?


Halloween In California: Summoning The Ghost Of A Recall Past?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, October 31, 2019

What to purchase if you’re a California Republican and still in need of a Halloween costume?

Analysis and Commentary

“A Political Nervous Breakdown” . . . On Which Side Of The Atlantic?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, October 31, 2019

Seventy-two hours in London this past weekend left me cognizant of at least three things: (1) the need for affordable supersonic flights that shorten the 20-hour roundtrip between San Francisco and Heathrow; (2) how best to avert jet-lag and germ-infested cabin air (he said, reaching for the DayQuil); And . . . (3) who’s in worse political shape these days – the U.S. or the U.K.?


California’s Homelessness Crisis: The Beginning Of The End, The End Of The Beginning—Or No End In Sight?

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

By most measures, Gavin Newsom has had a productive 2019.


BIll Whalen On The John Batchelor Show: Gavin Newsom In 80 MPH Wildfire Winds

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses his California On Your Mind article "Never Give A Sucker An Even Break, Unless You’re California’s Governor."


Never Give A Sucker An Even Break, Unless You’re California’s Governor

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, October 24, 2019

To verify the adage “What a difference a year makes,” look no further than the recently concluded bill-signing season in Sacramento, a one-month stretch from mid-September to mid-October during which California’s governor approves or vetoes pending legislation (matters on which the governor doesn’t act automatically become law).