ERIE, Pa. - The last week has brought a swirl of rumors and accusations between two Democratic nominees running for the 2nd Legislative District seat in the upcoming primary election. Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Bill Cole is trying to play peacemaker.

Former Erie County Council Chairman Jay Breneman claims his opponent, Erie City Councilman Bob Merski, is behind some of the recent legal challenges that have targeted the former county council chairman's campaign. Recently, two Democratic voters challenged the validity of Breneman's petition signatures in Pa. Commonwealth Court, a case that the judge dismissed, upholding the signatures leaving Breneman on the ballot. Days later, campaign finance records from Breneman's 2017 City of Erie mayoral campaign were the centerpiece of a challenge in Erie County court. That case remains ongoing in the legal system.

Breneman claims Merski is behind both attacks, what he called "mudslinging" on Facebook Tuesday. On Twitter, Breneman explicitly named the Merski campaign. "No more games, Bob. Stop the mudslinging. Stop the games. Stop pretending you and your campaign are not involved," Breneman tweeted.

"These attacks reek of entitlement and desperation, and the voters are sick of it," Breneman said in the Facebook post.

Merski denies any involvement, and his name has never appeared on any related legal documents connected to the Breneman cases. He responded to Breneman on Twitter early Thursday morning, stating in-part "setting the record straight (doesn't equal) mudslinging."

"It’s hypocrisy to call out others & demand of others what we don’t exhibit ourselves," Merski's tweet continued.

Both candidates have declined to Erie News Now on-camera about this issue at separate times this week. But Cole did at Thursday's annual Erie County Democratic Party Spring Dinner, held at the BrewErie at Union Station.

"Politics is a blood sport. It's like football, if you get hit in the first half, you want to come out tough in the second half," Cole said. "Hopefully they will have that corrected and all settled before the primary election day."

The dinner gives candidates from some of the region's top races (including Congress and State Representative) the chance to layout their platforms before voters and other local leaders.

Former Erie Mayor Rick Filippi is the third Democratic candidate who will appear on the May 15 primary ballot for the 2nd District Democratic Party nomination. Republicans Laban Marsh and Timothy Kuzma are competing for their party's nomination.