Three leading Democrats competing to replace Rep. David Wu met Friday at Portland's City Club, and the subject of trade issues was one that came up repeatedly.
Candidates were asked what the United States should do to affect China's economic dominance.
"The first thing we need to do is take care of matters at home," said state Rep. Brad Witt.
Witt said he felt the country's best chance to stay competitive lies with investment in infrastructure and maintaining strong relations with China.
Similarly, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici promised to work on infrastructure and also improve schools, while creating a friendlier business climate.
"We need to rebuild our reputation as a leader by creating jobs, helping small businesses get access to capital," Bonamici said.
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian took a different approach, saying he sees trade agreements as most crucial.
"We will not be strong and competitive like we used to be if we continue sending jobs overseas," he said.
The Primary Election is on an expedited schedule. Ballots will be mailed in two weeks.