The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich head to a deserted island

(Courtesy: Discovery Channel)

This post has been updated.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has made another visit to a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean. But this time, he brought along a Democrat.

Flake and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) visited the tiny island of Eru, part of the Marshall Islands. This is Flake’s third visit to a small remote Pacific Ocean island.

But in a twist, Flake and Heinrich were accompanied by a crew from the Discovery Channel. Flake says the network, known for its adventure and outdoor programming, is preparing to air a television special that will air Oct. 29.

“Our first thought was just to go and take a few Go-Pro cameras and film it and document it or hand it over to someone,” Flake said in an interview Thursday morning with The Washington Post. “We wanted to show that Republicans and Democrats can get along and survive together. Then we approached Discovery because they have a number of survivor shows and they said, well, we like the idea but how about you let us come film it?

“Whoever is going to lead the Senate going forward is going to do so with a very slim margin,” Flake added. “The parties are going to need to work together, so we wanted to get this out before the election, now’s a good time to show it.”

Heinrich wasn’t immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman in his office referred questions about the trip to the Discovery Channel, saying that the senator’s office wouldn’t be handling inquiries because it was a personal trip.

The August trip marks the third known trip taken to the region by Flake. He took a similar trip during the Memorial Day weekend last year with his two sons to Biggarenn, an unoccupied island that Flake estimated was just 55 to 70 acres in size. Flake and his sons, Tanner and Dallin, filmed the experience on a Go-Pro camera.

When he took his trip five years ago, Flake set up camp on Jabonwod, an island just a third of a mile long and 100 yards wide at high tide. He carried just a few items: A mask, fins and a pole-spear, a manual desalination pump, a magnifying glass to help start fires with the sun, a hammock for sleeping, a knife, hatchet, sunscreen, cooking pot, salt and pepper -- and a satellite phone, just in case.

Discovery Channel says the journey will air as a one-episode series, “Rival Survival” on Oct. 29 at 10 p.m. ET. As the network describes it, the “senatorial adversaries” are turned into “survival teammates” and have to work together “as they attempt to spear fish, build shelter and find enough water to survive for one week. There is no natural source for fresh water on Eru, and what lives in the ocean will be their major food source. This unusual pairing will leave behind the daily life of congressional staff, Senate hearings and committee meetings to navigate the rigors of surviving on an isolated island with no contact with the outside world to call upon for help.”