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


Why L.A. Could Host Dems In 2020 (And Why It Shouldn't)

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

For decades now, America’s two political parties have approached their national conventions with a Realtor’s mindset: “location, location, location.” But with all due respect to Sam Cooke, voters don’t know much geography -- or seem to factor it into their decisions.

Analysis and Commentary

Friends, Enemies And Frenemies In California's Primary

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, May 26, 2018

If you’re trying to make sense of this midterm election, take my advice and stay away from California for the next week and a half – not until voters have gone to the polls and, hopefully, clarified some mixed messages.


Forget About The Weather: In California, Everybody Talks About Livability— But Nobody Does Anything About It

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Thursday, May 24, 2018

A funny thing about California: in the 1950s, it was a nice place to visit, but you didn’t necessarily want to live there


What's Wrong With The Democratic Party? Just Look At California

by Bill Whalenvia The Hill
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Opinions differ on the cure to what ails Democratic electoral prospects two years from now, assuming their 2020 opponent is President Trump.

Analysis and Commentary

Open Primary, Presidential Buzz: The More California Changes, The More It Stays The Same

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, May 20, 2018

Californians will flock to the polls on the first Tuesday in June – among other things, to narrow its choices for the state’s next governor. So what popped up in my mailbox this weekend? No bills, no catalogues. Just two pieces of campaign literature.

Analysis and Commentary

Where Are The Mavericks In Race For California Governor?

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Like Oliver Twist (“Please, sir, I want more”), I crave the gruel that is a California gubernatorial debate.

Analysis and Commentary

Here Comes The Judge . . . In A Lot Of Red-State Senate Races

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Miracle of miracles, the United States Senate earlier in the week did something that sounds out of place in this era of fractious politics. Quietly, with little fuss or fanfare, it confirmed two federal judicial nominations by unanimous vote.

John McCain
Analysis and Commentary

Can We Honor John McCain With The Dignity He Deserves?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, May 13, 2018

A funny thing about my job: every election cycle, I can count on at least one conservation with a political neophyte interested in the pursuit of elected office.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Little Drama, But Odd Plots, In Calif. Race For Governor

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Thursday, May 10, 2018

This is the week things got serious in California. June primary absentee ballots (in California parlance, “vote by mail”) arrived in homes across the Golden State, just days after the official voter information guide. Though the actual vote isn’t for another four Tuesdays, political ads now flood the local airwaves.

Analysis and Commentary

If Not For The Scandals And Scattered Messaging, Trump Wouldn't Lack For Good News

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, May 5, 2018

On the same day as the Running of the Roses, why not a look at the horse race that is the Trump presidency?