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

Counting Bernie Sanders Out In 2020 May Be History Repeating Itself

by Bill Whalenvia The Sacramento Bee
Friday, April 19, 2019
Thanks to Lake Tahoe’s fourth snowiest winter on record, California ski resorts have extended their seasons. At the risk of getting out over our skis, let’s speculate about life with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Democrats’ presidential nominee.
Analysis and Commentary

Now That Bernie Has Discovered Fox News, Will He Further Explore Red-State America?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, April 18, 2019
In news non-hysterical and non-related to the rollout of the Mueller Report, we’ve learned Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has agreed to a May 8 town hall in Milwaukee to be aired live by the Fox News Channel.
The StateAnalysis and Commentary

When It Comes To Playing “the California Game,” Kevin Durant May Have Dethroned “King James”

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, April 18, 2019

If you’re a fan of the National Basketball Association, you’re probably aware of two California trends.

Analysis and Commentary

What Newsom's First 100 Days Portend For His Future

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Today marks California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 100th day in office – an insignificant media-driven landmark for many an elected official, but for Newsom a window into what lies ahead for the 40th governor of the Golden State.


Bill Whalen: Cory Booker Falling Behind & What Is To Be Done?

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses his Forbes article "Cory Booker Has a Dream: To Become Relevant Again.

Analysis and Commentary

Cory Booker Has A Dream: To Become Relevant Again

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, April 13, 2019

Seven summers ago, then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker returned to his alma mater, Stanford University, to deliver that year’s commencement address. Booker’s is the sort of virtue-laden biography that Stanford loves to extol – a refined, courteous, cerebral football player who went on to a Rhodes scholarship and Yale Law School before making the pivot from a glidepath toward wealth to a nobler career in public service.


California’s Governor Looks South Of The Border; California Lawmakers Look To Shame South Carolina

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, April 11, 2019

California far outpaces America’s 49 other states in wealth, economic output, and innovation spending (by some estimates, nearly one-third of the nation’s overall R&D spending).


Bill Whalen: Trump 3, White House Correspondents Dinner, 0

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen talks about his Forbes article "Speaking Of Beltway Institutions: Trump's Disdain For Washington."

Analysis and Commentary

What Does It Say That Mrs. Bush Gets Her Final Say?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

I’ll confess: I can’t decide whether to buy the new Barbara Bush biography (The Matriarch: Barbara Bush And The Making Of An American Dynastyreleased last week.

In the News

Political Cornflakes: Unlike Their Predecessors, This Batch Of Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Have Taken A Hard Line Against The Death Penalty

quoting Bill Whalenvia The Salt Lake Tribune
Monday, April 8, 2019

Democrats eyeing the presidency have raised their voices to denounce the death penalty, a departure from their predecessors who were wary of appearing weak on crime. President Barack Obama never called for getting rid of the death penalty, and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Bill Clinton all supported keeping it.