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

EducationAnalysis and Commentary

Los Angeles Teachers’ Strike: Why Isn’t The City’s Mayor Calling Balls And Strikes?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, January 17, 2019

With all due respect to the gridlock back in the nation’s capital, there’s a far more compelling government impasse afoot.

Analysis and Commentary

Is Beto O'Rourke Running For President Or Brand Ambassador?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, January 13, 2019

Considering that debate season commences in just five months (Democrats are looking at a dozen group encounters in the 2019-2020 cycle, starting in June, as opposed to the mere six that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders agreed to), it’s no surprise that presidential candidates are crawling out of the woodwork.

Analysis and Commentary

Gov. Newsom Could Run For President. Is It A Question Of If Or When?

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Friday, January 11, 2019

Years ago, I treated my sister and her husband to an evening with Siegfried & Roy. As it was their first time in Sin City, it seemed like the “Vegas” thing to do. And, I figured, they might not get a second chance to see the act. Not long after their visit, Roy Horn nearly died after being dragged offstage by one of the big cats.


California Gets A New Governor—And A Voyage Into Expensive Progressive Waters

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, January 10, 2019

We’re only four days into a new administration, and I’ll admit that I’m struggling to put California’s fortieth governor in historical context.

IntroductionEurekaAnalysis and Commentary

The Curtain Rises On The Newsom Administration

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The new year in Sacramento didn’t start with a bang, but it definitely produced more than a whimper of change.

Featured CommentaryEurekaAnalysis and Commentary

Newsom For President? Just Say No—For Now, At Least

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

As he settles in to his new surroundings as California’s fortieth governor, Gavin Newsom will find it hard to escape Ronald Reagan, the last man to serve as both governor of California and president of the United States.

Analysis and Commentary

A New Year's Quiz

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, December 31, 2018

The late, great William Safire had a wonderful New Year’s tradition: treating his readers to a quiz on what to expect with the calendar flipped. Mr. Safire was indeed a gem, as his surname suggested. To honor his memory, here’s my (hopefully not-too-lame) attempt at things to ponder in what should be an eventful 2019.

Analysis and Commentary

Something Different In 2020: A Same-State Presidential Ticket

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, December 20, 2018

In the second half of 2018, the most compelling political battle in Washington, D.C., didn’t play out in the White House or Capitol Hill. Instead, the real action was uptown at the National Zoo, where the naked mole-rat colony was in the process of choosing its queen. Why is it good to be the queen, you might ask?

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

Can California Republicans Rebrand And Rebuild—And Survive Another Trump Referendum?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, December 20, 2018

During the First World War, a top German military commander supposedly came up with these unflattering words—“shackled to a corpse”—to describe his country’s alliance with the faltering Austro-Hungarian empire.

Analysis and Commentary

A Biden-Romney Ticket? Say It Ain't So, Joe

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, December 16, 2018

For a guy who hasn’t indicated what his plans will be in 2019 and beyond, Joe Biden’s a done a good job of staying in the news. This very early Iowa poll has Biden as the frontrunner in that caucus state (the same poll, done in late 2014, had Jeb Bush in the pole position).