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


Bill Whalen: On The Road To Baku: Run, Joe, Run?

interview with Bill Whalenvia John Batchelor Show
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses whether Joe Biden will run for president.


Bill Whalen: On The Road To Baku: Is Bernie The One?

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses the Democratic presidential race.

Analysis and Commentary

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Democrats Incorporated!

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, March 11, 2019

In case you didn’t hear the news, the Democrats will hold their national convention next summer in Milwaukee, the first time that the Wisconsin city has hosted such a gathering for either major party.


From Israel To Amazon To Fundraising, "Middle-Class Joe" May Find It A Rough Go

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Imagine an alternate universe in which Jimmy Carter, 32 years after his first presidential run (this is assuming Carter wasn’t a winner back in 1976 and lost again in 1996), decided the third time would be the charm.

Will Newsom Put California’s Death Penalty On Pause—Or Empty Death Row?

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

To understand American politics is to appreciate the concept of changing norms. New generations emerge, electorates evolve, and the once verboten suddenly becomes palatable.


Bill Whalen: Will Andrew Cuomo Join The Presidential Race?

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses his Forbes article "Hamlet On The Hudson -- The Sequel."

Analysis and Commentary

A Big Democratic Field, But Is It A Field Of Dreams?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

On Monday, the Democratic-controlled House Ways & Committee sent letters across the nation’s capital asking for information (Russian business dealings, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, hush payments to women) from President Trump’s sons, business associates and political aides and allies.

Analysis and Commentary

Hamlet On The Hudson -- The Sequel

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, March 3, 2019

Any look back at American presidential politics in the 1980’s would include at least two narratives. One would be Republican dominance. The two Reagan campaigns and one Bush effort carried 133 of 150 states and amassed 1,440 of 1,614 electoral votes.

In the News

Politico: California Playbook

quoting Bill Whalenvia Politico
Friday, March 1, 2019
“Since its inception 170 years ago, California constitutional law has dictated that a governor must be inside state lines to exercise the powers of the office...In an alternative universe in which the lieutenant governor was a Republican, this would present a headache for California’s state government." - Bill Whalen
Analysis and Commentary

Newsom, Feinstein Experiences This Week Fell On Both Sides Of Hot And Cold Spectrum

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Friday, March 1, 2019

To survive February is to appreciate climate change. The mercury can soar into the 70s and 80s, just as easily as Mother Nature can inflict rain and snow. Temperate and frigid likewise apply to what two California politicians encountered this past week. Gov. Newsom, making his first visit to the nation’s capital since taking office, stayed on the warm side. He had positive things to say about his encounter with President Trump’s point man on disaster aid. There was no heated talk about the anti-Trump “resistance,” even while in Trump’s proximity at a White House black-tie event.