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

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.

Analysis and Commentary

Speaking Of Beltway Institutions: Trump's Disdain For Washington

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, April 7, 2019

One thing President Trump can be: stubborn. Three springs into his presidency, Trump has shown little interest in the lifeblood of the nation’s capital, other than quick spins over to the Trump International Hotel for private dinners with family and friends.

In the News

Democrats Rethink The Death Penalty, And Its Politics

quoting Bill Whalenvia The New York Times
Sunday, April 7, 2019

By signing an executive order, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California recently ended the threat of execution as long as he is in office for the 737 inmates on the state’s death row, the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

Analysis and Commentary

Will Newsom’s “Inspirational Framework” Include More Taxes And Regulations?

by Bill Whalenvia The Sacramento Bee
Friday, April 5, 2019

In the neighborhood of America’s blue states, California is more than keeping up with the Joneses. Three years ago, voters in America’s nation-state legalized recreational marijuana. In New York, a legislative push to do the same as part of a bigger state budget deal just went up in smoke (it might pass this summer when it’s a standalone vote).