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


Go Ahead And The Change The Electoral College, But There's Still A Trump Presidency

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, August 12, 2018

There are those Russophobes who’ll forever be convinced that the American election system was compromised and the outcome altered in 2016 – and still others who believe the system is broken and in need of repair.


Want A Lot Of Debates Between Gavin Newsom And John Cox? Fat Chance

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, August 9, 2018

California’s suffering through a frustrating election-year ritual: the two gubernatorial candidates debating over how many times they’re willing to debate. In this Sacramento Bee column, I offer a fix: local media should take the lead and announce four debates – one in Sacramento on taxes and budgets; one in San Francisco on housing and the economy; one in Los Angeles on inclusiveness; one in the Central Valley on the environment and land management.


How California Wildfires Fan Political And Policy Flames

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Where many parts of the United States enjoy four seasons, California experiences only two: wet and dry. It rains in the winter and fall (at least, it’s supposed to). Springtime and summers are predominately arid.

Analysis and Commentary

From Coast To Coast, Republicans Are Drafting And Drifting From Trump

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, August 5, 2018

On Tuesday, once the votes are counted in the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, one of two things will occur: order will have been (temporarily) restored to the political universe (Republicans retaining a seat that’s been in GOP for most of the past century); or the airwaves with overflow with prophecies of chaos in store for November (if Democrats can win in a district President Trump carried by more than 11% in November 2016, the argument goes, then just how high will the “blue wave” crest?).

Analysis and Commentary

For Jerry Brown’s Last California Hall Of Fame Class, One Choice Is Clear: Willie Brown

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, July 26, 2018

Soon after the November election, one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s last official acts will be announcing a new class of inductees to the California Hall of Fame.

Analysis and Commentary

Can We Turn The Page On Candidates Writing Books?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, July 22, 2018

Plenty of books have been written about presidential campaigns, but a book on how to lay the groundwork for such an endeavor might include this chapter on “bookmarks” – i.e., before formally running, make your mark by publishing a book.

Analysis and Commentary

California Takes A Break From Breaking Up

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

In words not said often in no-fault California: the divorce is off. That’s one way to interpret Wednesday’s ruling by the California Supreme Court to strike Proposition 9, aka “Cal 3”, from the November ballot. If approved, it would have started in motion the break-up of America’s nation-state into three smaller entities, each with the electoral clout of Ohio.


Anger In The Golden State

by Bill Whalenvia The Washington Times
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Last weekend, the executive board of the California Democratic Party voted to endorse Ms. Feinstein’s challenger, fellow Democratic State Sen. Kevin de Leon, in his bid to unseat the four-term incumbent (both Democrats advanced to the general election as the top-two finishers in California’s June “open” primary). The outcome wasn’t close Mr. de Leon received 65 percent to Ms. Feinstein’s mere 7 percent, with 28 percent opting for “no endorsement.”

Analysis and Commentary

Why Does President Trump Balk At Attending Baseball Games?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, July 15, 2018
As the World Cup finale plays in my living room, it’s seems like the right time to reflect on “America’s pastime” – baseball – and its curious standing these days.
Analysis and Commentary

America's Government -- Hooked Up To An Ivy Drip?

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Saturday, July 14, 2018

Here’s hoping that someone turned on a recorder when President Trump met with his Supreme Court finalists, for I’m guessing that in at least three instances the conversation went something like the Princeton interview scene in “Risky Business.”