The Indiana Citizen

The Crossroads of Civic Engagement

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Two decades ago, the boy wonder of South Bend political circles was not the one who would come to mind today. Ryan Dvorak, only a few years out of Notre Dame, was senior aide to a U.S. congressman and would soon be elected in his own right to the Indiana House representing District 8. In 2011, after rolling up impressive reelection totals, Dvorak ran for mayor of South Bend, and in the Democratic primary he ran headlong into a younger and somewhat lesser known opponent, Pete Buttigieg.

The national focus was on the grittier side of South Bend and its Rust Belt economy as former Mayor Buttigieg ran for president. But House District 8, still represented by Dvorak, centers more on the affluent suburbs and campus environs to the north as well as rural areas west of South Bend.

Dvorak enjoyed three terms in Democratic majorities during his first decade in the House. An attorney, he was named soon after his election as chair of the Courts and Criminal Code Committee, on which his father also had served during seven previous terms. One of the first bills he carried, expanding the use of interlock ignition devices to prevent drunken driving, was signed into law. From the minority, he has been most vocal on environmental and utility issues.

Getting his bills out of committee appears no easier for Dvorak than for most of the badly outnumbered House Democrats – for him, it hasn’t happened in more than 10 years – and he usually comes in under the bill-filing limit placed on legislators. But he is among the most active on his side of the aisle in at least trying to obstruct legislation that he sees as unfriendly to the environment. He led the charge in 2020 against House Bill 1414 authored by Republican Ed Soliday, which slowed down the shutdown of Indiana’s remaining coal-fired utilities to ensure there were enough alternative energy sources to keep the lights on. The bill, also opposed by business groups and the utility industry itself, passed the House but with seven Republicans in opposition; it later passed the Senate and has been signed into law

At 46, Dvorak is one of the more senior House Democrats and, though he no longer holds a leadership position, is point man for the caucus on parliamentary matters. The Dvoraks have never lost an election in House District 8 – a streak that, including his father’s tenure, goes all the way back to 1984. Despite the mix of suburban and rural that often make districts competitive, he ran unopposed in 2018 and had no Republicans file in the primary in 2020. Republicans added a candidate to the general election ballot ahead of the June 30 deadline; Dvorak won by about 4,000 votes. – Kevin Morgan



(800) 382-9842
200 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204


  • JD, McKinney School of Law, Indiana University, 2008
  • BA, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, 1996


Education, Courts and Criminal Code, Judiciary, Joint Rules, Rules and Legislative Procedure, Natural Resources.


SB 198-2019 (Sentencing, bias crimes). Allowed longer sentences in crimes based on personal characteristics, stripped of references to sexual orientation, gender identity and race. No

SB 516-2019 (Regulation of hemp). Allowed cultivation and regulation of hemp products in Indiana, did not change marijuana laws. Yes

HB 1001-2019 (State budget). Set funding for state agencies and services, including 2.5% annual increases for education, though not directly for teacher salaries. No

HB 1004-2019 (School safety). Increased access to funding for security systems and resource officers, was stripped of provisions for mental health screening. Yes

HB 1015-2019 (Various gaming matters). Allowed sports betting statewide and table games in more casinos, relocated a casino in Gary and authorizing a new one in Terre Haute. No

SB 1-2020 (Tobacco and vaping). Raised from 18 to 21 the legal age to buy tobacco or vaping products in Indiana. Yes

SB 148-2020 (Zoning and housing matters). Was amended to overrule local tenant protection measures like those in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Merrillville. Vetoed by governor. No

HB 1004-2020 (Health matters). Controlled surprise billing for out-of-network and other costs. No

HB 1070-2020 (Distracted driving). Made it an infraction to handle a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Excused

HB 1414-2020 (Electric generation). Prohibited utilities from closing coal-fired generating plants without permission from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. No


IBEW, $3,000

Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, $2,000

Indiana Multi Family Housing, $1,000

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, $1,000

Thomas E Mixdorf, $750


Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 50
Indiana Manufacturers Association Lifetime Positions 41
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions (4 Year Average) 49
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Positions 43
LEAP Forward Positions (Indianna) 50
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Positions 94
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Lifetime Positions 94
National Rifle Association Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 80
Indiana AFL-CIO Positions 100
Indiana Manufacturers Association Positions 40


Attorney, May Oberfell Lorber.


Population: 64,978

Race/Ethnic Origin: 83.9% white, 9.3% black, 2.6% Asian, 1.7% other, 2.4% two or more; 81.3% white non-Hispanic, 4.6% Hispanic.