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 Commentary

Primary Pondering

by Bill Whalenvia National Review Online
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

There may be no second acts in American lives, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once suggested, but that doesn’t keep us from second-guessing politics, politicians, and the art of campaigning...

Analysis and Commentary

California's College Conundrum

by Bill Whalenvia Weekly Standard
Friday, May 2, 2008

IF YOU'RE ONE of those parents who worries about what effects standardized testing will have on your teen's self esteem, fear not: The University of California is poised to rush to Generation Y's emotional rescue...

Analysis and Commentary

A plan for the Pennsylvania primary

by Bill Whalenvia San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, March 10, 2008

And so it would seem that, for the six weeks from mid-March to late April, the Democratic presidential contest stands a good chance of devolving into a daily insult-fest over Hillary Clinton's tax returns and Barack Obama's real estate savvy - neither of which matters a lick to voters whipsawed by crumbling mortgages and the dread of the April 15 tax deadline...

Golden Headache

by Bill Whalenvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

As it does every four years, California is once again struggling to ensure that its presidential primary will matter. Good luck. By Bill Whalen.

Analysis and Commentary

California wildfires fan political conflagration

by Bill Whalenvia San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, October 28, 2007

If you found yourself mesmerized by California's terrible wildfires last week, you might have overlooked an even uglier conflagration that's engulfed the entire nation: the acid state of political discourse, and the abject failure of the left, the right and a supposedly neutral media to resist their darker natures and juvenile tendencies...

Analysis and Commentary

Sacramento's winners and losers

by Bill Whalenvia Los Angeles Times
Sunday, October 21, 2007

The regular legislative session concluded last weekend, and the only thing "special" about the special session underway is its lack of results so far...

Analysis and Commentary

Golden State Presents Dilemma for GOP Candidates

by Bill Whalenvia Washington Post
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nearly two decades after his greatest political triumph and 16 years after he succumbed to cancer at the age of 40, the ghost of Lee Atwater looms over the Republican presidential field...

Analysis and Commentary

Improving the state budget process

by Bill Whalenvia San Diego Union-Tribune
Friday, August 24, 2007

No sooner had legislative Democrats and Republicans resolved the 52-day state budget impasse than Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata went before to cameras to exult, “Thank God this is over with..."

Analysis and Commentary

Leave No Child (or Wife) Behind?

by Bill Whalenvia Weekly Standard
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the long voyage that is the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the media have adopted a new approach: women and children first...

Analysis and Commentary

Research Fellow Bill Whalen: GOP vs. the governor

by Bill Whalenvia Los Angeles Times
Sunday, August 5, 2007

Schwarzenegger has let down Republicans, so we're back to the familiar show of legislators feuding with a governor from their own party...