Jeff Flake and his US Senate rival both survive TV reality show

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Two freshmen U.S. senators from opposite sides of the political aisle said Thursday they survived and even cooperated while spending a week marooned together on a remote island for a new reality show, "Rival Survival."

New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake said they hope their adventure, scheduled to air Oct. 29 on Discovery, inspires their colleagues in Washington to work together.

"Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington," the two said in a joint statement. "We decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together."

Discovery says the show was filmed on the island of Eru in the Marshall Islands while Congress was on its August break.

Discovery describes the island "as an utterly unforgiving deserted destination where the reefs alone are fraught with dangers that include venomous stonefish, lionfish and scorpion fish."

Heinrich, a progressive Democrat, said the conservative Flake approached him with the idea for the show a few weeks after they spent hours on the Senate floor during a budget debate sharing photos of trips they had made, including two that Flake took to the Marshall Islands.

"At first I thought it was crazy," Heinrich said. "But then I thought the idea of contrasting us working together when the national election is in full swing actually makes a bit of sense."

The senators were each allowed to pick three survival items from what Discovery called a modest list, then were forced to jump from a boat and swim to shore with just those items and the clothes on their backs.

"It was hard," Heinrich said. "It was full-on survival."

Heinrich says one thing they chose was a machete, which was crucial for cracking coconuts on the island with no fresh water source.

"I won't be drinking coconut water for a while," he said. "I think that trend is over for me."

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