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Journalist Ryan Cleary was elected Monday to represent the riding of St. John's South-Mount Pearl. (CBC )

New Democrat Ryan Cleary easily won the riding of St. John's South–Mount Pearl in Monday night's election, defeating a Liberal incumbent who had narrowly edged him in the last election.

"The NDP is on the rise in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Cleary after he was declared the winner in a riding that had until now ever elected Tories and Liberals.

"I attribute it to people looking to the future."

Cleary took almost 48 per cent of the votes cast, handily defeated Liberal incumbent Siobhan Coady, who trailed with less than 29 per cent of the vote.

Conservative star candidate Loyola Sullivan, a former provincial finance minister, placed third, while Green candidate Rick Austin came fourth.

St. John's South-Mount Pearl Liberal campaign co-chair Scott Reid said Coady worked hard as an Member of Parliament but it just wasn't enough this time.

"Sometimes…no matter how strong a swimmer you are…sometimes there's a current that pushes you around that you can't make progress against," said Reid.

The 2008 race between Coady and Cleary was surprisingly tight, with just three percentage points between the two on election day.

Helped at the time by the "anything but Conservative" campaign that then-premier Danny Williams had unleashed against Stephen Harper, Cleary went into this campaign with considerably more resources from the party. The campaign worked particularly hard at generating interest among students and young adults.

Cleary, though, came to the campaign with some baggage with the party. Just last fall, he severed ties with the NDP, saying he could not be a working journalist and an NDP member at the time.

A former newspaper editor, Cleary had taken cracks at the NDP in the past. Although he never withdrew them, Cleary and the party brushed off those comments  — members were described as "losers" and "aging granolas and artsy-fartsies," while "Jackie Layton" could not win an election even if he had been "given a 100-seat head start" — during the 2008 campaign.

Cleary will be joined in caucus by returning St. John's East MP Jack Harris, who won his seat Monday night  in a landslide.