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

The Statue of Liberty.

Abolish Ice? Democrats Ignore The Republicans' Obamacare Lesson

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, July 5, 2018

In this age of instant and Instagram-fueled heroes and martyrs, what do we make of Therese Patricia Okoumou? In case you weren’t paying attention yesterday, she’s the 44-year-old Staten Island resident (born and educated in the Republic of the Congo) who engaged in a very public protest, at a very iconic landmark, on America’s 242nd birthday.

California flag

A California Budget That Reflects Plenty Of Dollars -- But Less Sense

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, June 30, 2018

Not too long ago, one of the unwritten rules of California politics dictated: state budget negotiations don’t heat up until the temperature in Sacramento reaches triple digits. Sure enough, the mercury reached 101 in the California’s capital on Friday, June 22.


Tired Of Roseanne Barr And Maxine Waters? America Needs A Two-Month Timeout From Political Battles

by Bill Whalenvia The Sacramento Bee
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Save for fashion, cuisine and dating guidelines (no partner younger than half one’s age, plus seven years), it’s not often that America is in the business of mimicking the French.
Analysis and Commentary

A Trump Detour To Charleston Might Provide Some Relief To This Political Heat Wave

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, June 24, 2018

In a summer where the nation’s indecency index may surpass that of heat and humidity, here’s a noble thing for President Trump to do when he visits South Carolina on Monday: instead of the scheduled campaign stop in West Columbia to campaign on behalf of Gov. Henry McMaster, detour to Charleston’s Medical University Hospital.


Does Gavin Newsom Represent A Shift In California Democratic Party?

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, June 14, 2018

As we face summer reruns on TV, is California's gubernatorial race destined to be a playback of the first of Jerry Brown's four triumphs 44 years ago?

Analysis and Commentary

One Smart Alec, One Crowded Democratic Field

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

In other news not having to do with two McDonalds-lovers summiting in Singapore or a Russian frolicking in the streets of Washington (hockey player Alex Ovechkin, not Vladimir Putin), there’s the report that the actor Alec Baldwin likes his chances against President Trump in a 2020 matchup.


It's Newsom's Race To Win, Whether California Likes It Or Not

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Thursday, June 7, 2018

A decade ago, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was less a Democratic rock star and more a party millstone. Four years after he’d defied state law as San Francisco’s mayor by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples – in the process, becoming something of a convenient fall guy for John Kerry’s lackluster presidential run – a statewide vote (2008’s Proposition 8) redefined California’s interpretation of the institution as strictly a male-female exchange of vows.


California Votes -- The Winners And Losers

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

They’re still counting the votes in California (you can thank a lot of last-minute mail ballots for that), the scene of a statewide primary Tuesday night.

Analysis and Commentary

Searching For Another Bobby Kennedy

by Bill Whalenvia The Washington Times
Sunday, June 3, 2018

June 6 marks 50 years since a turning point in the long history of an American political dynasty — Robert F. Kennedy declaring victory in California’s Democratic presidential primary, then moments later was gunned down in the kitchen service area of Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel.

Analysis and Commentary

California Has Never Had A Female Governor. It Will Not Happen This Year, Either

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Political progress in this election cycle equals a record-high 78 women running for governor across America, including four here in California. But those four women are likely to exit the California race once votes are counted next week.