Jennifer Berkshire, education journalist and co-author of A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door (with Jack Schneider) explains in The Nation the real reason why Terry McAuliffe lost the governorship in Virginia.

McAuliffe, she says, could have turned the education issue in his favor, but he doesn’t have a clue what public schools are for. He is a corporate reformer. He couldn’t defend the public schools because he sees them as job training sites that feed workers into big corporations. To those parents who care about their public schools, he was as unable to articulate a vision for them as his opponent, Glenn Youngkin.

She wrote:

Four years ago, McAuliffe was en route to southwest Virginia in a state helicopter when he heard about Amazon’s HQ 2 competition—the search by the corporate behemoth for a second headquarters outside of Seattle. The contest would come to be derided as at best a sham, at worst a bait and switch, but for McAuliffe it represented an opportunity to cement his legacy. “We’ve got to win this!” McAuliffe recalled in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Literally, it would finish what we started in diversifying and building a new economy.”

While other states shoveled taxpayer cash and gimmicky incentives in an effort to lure Amazon, Virginia promised something more meaningful to the company: its schools. At the center of Virginia’s sales pitch was a pledge to invest more than $1 billion into tech education, beginning in kindergarten, through high school and into college. Come to northern Virginia, beckoned McAuliffe and his economic development team, and a K-12 tech talent pipeline awaits. “In Virginia, we put corporate partners first,” wrote McAuliffe in a letter to Amazon.

Virginia won the competition, and so did McAuliffe.

He’d taken office in 2013 with a pledge to make the state “the best place to do business,” and followed a blueprint, furnished by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, to get there. Realigning Virginia’s public schools to better fit the needs of employers—or in Chamber speak, “strengthen[ing] the linkages between the classroom and the workplace at all levels”—was central to realizing his goal….

As a Times-Dispatch reporter noted, Youngkin and McAuliffe were virtually indistinguishable on the goal of tethering education ever more tightly to the needs of Virginia’s industries. In an election in which education was a central and divisive issue, the candidates were in lockstep on the belief that the function of schools is to train Amazon workers.

He was unable to articulate the role of the public schools as the foundation of a democratic society. He doesn’t get it.

Berkshire concludes:

When McAuliffe ran for governor in 2013, the political arm of the Chamber of Commerce representing the northern part of the state, the aptly named NOVABizPAC, backed the Democrat over his GOP challenger, right-wing firebrand Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe was their kind of guy, explained the group’s chief. His policies and priorities—especially his vow to keep Virginia a right-to-work state—neatly aligned with those of the business community. This year the group declined to back McAuliffe or Youngkin. Choosing between two such worthy candidates had proven impossible, said the group in a statement. Either would do.