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


Gavin Newsom States His Case -- And A Nation-State Lurches Further To The Left

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Under the category of “hours wasted that I’ll regret on my death bed,” I spent part of last week sifting through responses to the presidential State of the Union Addresses.

Analysis and Commentary

Glowing Coverage Of Kamala Harris Ignores Reality

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

If you’ve already had your fill of a presidential election still 21 months from fruition, here’s some good news: You needn’t worry about the nomination process. It seems California’s junior senator is well on her way to her party’s coronation. That’s impressive considering Kamala Harris formally announced her candidacy a little over two weeks ago. In that brief time, she’s instantly merited “top-tier” status, according to The Los Angeles Times. Then, she advanced to “front of the pack,” according to CNN.


John Dingell Is Gone -- And So Too House Democrats' Common Sense

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, February 9, 2019

Overlooked in a week of political news dominated by a presidential State of the Union Address and scandal-plagued Virginians: the passing of former Michigan Rep. John Dingell.


California, Unlike Norma Desmond, Isn’t Ready For Her Close-Up

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

There are two ways to interpret Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision not to run for the highest office in the land—a departure from the norm, as the line of Democrats jonesing for a shot at President Trump forms to the rear.


Gov. Chris Christie: President Trump And Power Politics

by Bill Whalenvia Commonwealth Club
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen talks with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie about his new book, Let Me Finish, as well as his time running a Democratic state, his 15-year relationship with Trump, what he saw during the 2016 campaign.

In the News

State Of The Union: Trump To Call For Unity As He Tries To Reboot Presidency

quoting Bill Whalenvia The Guardian
Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Trump will tout economic strength and border security as he faces an audience with an unprecedented number of women.

Analysis and Commentary

Does Trump Need A State Of The Union To State His Case?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, February 4, 2019

At 9 p.m. sharp on the East Coast Tuesday night, tens of millions of Americans will take part in an annual political ritual: the presidential State of the Union Address.

US Ballot Box Image

Should Every Election Day Be A Federal Holiday?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Friday, February 1, 2019

Move past the theatrics of the government shutdown, impeachment and the threat of investigations ad infinitum and there’s the question of Democrat squad goals in a Pelosi-run House of Representatives. One way to judge that: prioritized legislation.


A Trump Card The President Can Play In California: Judgeships

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, January 31, 2019

Let’s take a look at the complicated relationship between President Trump and California through a more military lens—namely, the question of winning battles or wars.

In the News

Kamala Harris And The US State Looking To Take Down Trump

quoting Bill Whalenvia BBC News
Monday, January 28, 2019

The propulsion of senator and lawyer Kamala Harris to front-runner status among the Democrats hoping to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 has underlined the resurgent political power of her home state.